StudySmarter: Study help & AI tools
4.5 • +22k Ratings
More than 22 Million Downloads
Lerne mit deinen Freunden und bleibe auf dem richtigen Kurs mit deinen persönlichen LernstatistikenJetzt kostenlos anmelden
Nie wieder prokastinieren mit unseren Lernerinnerungen.Jetzt kostenlos anmelden
When Gustave Flaubert's book Madame Bovary (1856) was put up for trial in 1857 due to its scandalous nature, it only heightened interest in his written works, raising his status from simply a writer to an important leader of the Realist movement in France.
On December 12, 1821, Gustave Flaubert was born in Rouen, France to parents Achille, a chief surgeon, and Anne. He had 5 siblings. Flaubert's interest in writing began when he was very young. While attending the College Royal de Rouen, he wrote for its school newspaper, noting Shakespeare as his greatest influence. He was also influenced greatly by his friend Alfred le Poittevin, a pessimistic philosopher and poet.
Encouraged by his parents, Flaubert moved to Paris in 1840 to study law. His indifference to studying law and an epileptic attack in 1844 led Flaubert to make the decision to stop his studies and pursue a career in writing. He had already written an essay, Memoirs D'un Fou (1901), and a book, Novembre (1842), at this point.
The essay, Memoirs d'un Fou, which was written in 1838 but wasn't published until 1901, is an autobiographical account of Gustave Flaubert's infatuation with Elisa Schlesinger, a married woman he met while traveling in the 1830s.
In 1845, Flaubert wrote the L'Education Sentimentale (1869), which revealed his joy in art and love. In 1846, when Flaubert's father and sister Caroline died, he decided to return to Rouen. In this same year, he met his only love, Louise Colet, with whom he had a relationship until 1854, until their separation due to personal differences.
It is believed that Flaubert never loved another woman after Colet, and never had children, as he saw bringing more children into the world as a way of passing down disgrace. Always open about his sexuality, Flaubert revealed in his letters that he spent a lot of time with prostitutes, male and female, on his travels. He contracted syphilis on one of his journeys.
Flaubert lived the remainder of his life in Croisset, where he retired with his mother and motherless niece, as his sister had not survived childbirth years prior. There he wrote the majority of his books, short stories, and dramas. Flaubert traveled quite often in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Between 1849-1850 he traveled with Maxime du Camp, a French writer and photographer.
Right before their departure, he read aloud to du Camp and another friend Louise Bouilhet, a poet and dramatist, his book The Temptation of St. Anthony (1874). This was such a fantastical prose poem, that both du Camp and Bouilhet discontinued encouraging him to write more realistic portrayals of life.
When Flaubert returned from his travels, he began to write Madame Bovary (1856), a book that provided insight into the psychological reality of a bourgeois woman. The novel sold very well, but Flaubert was charged with obscenity due to the religious and social immorality of his book. It would become his most famous book.
Bourgeois - A term used to describe the upper-middle class and in particular their wealth, affluence, and materialism.
Gustave Flaubert was friends with many influential writers of the time including Emile Zola, George Sand, and Ivan Turgenev, and devoted his time to writing within the realism genre of literature.
Realism - works of literature that focus on realistic depictions and portrayals of everyday life, people, and places. Realism focused on the mundane. French Realism in particular used this type of literature to explore social and political issues.
During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Flaubert's house was occupied by soldiers, and by 1872 his mother was dead. His written works during this time were considered unsuccessful, which left Flaubert with great financial insecurity. His niece's husband caused their financial situation to worsen when his bad business deals left him in a great deal of debt.
By the 1870s, Flaubert was nearly broke and his health was rapidly declining, probably due to the many venereal diseases he had contracted over his lifetime. Flaubert died in 1880 due to a cerebral hemorrhage. He was only 58 years old.
The Franco-Prussian War of 1870 was fought between the Second French Empire and the North German Confederation under the leadership of the Kingdom of Prussia, as Prussia was concerned France was trying to declare a dominant position in Europe.
It is said that the only reason Otto von Bismarck, chancellor of Prussia, wanted the French to declare war was to unite four independent German states with the North German confederation. Rouen, where Gustave Flaubert lived, was caught in the crosshairs. The war ended with the German siege of Paris in 1871.
Over his lifetime, Flaubert wrote many books that established his reputation as a leading Realist in France.
|Madame Bovary (1856)
|A tragic story about the marriage of Charles Bovary, a dull doctor, and Emma, who lives a life beyond her means to escape the boredom and mundanity of life.
|Freedom versus confinement, The boredom of everyday life, foolishness, and repression
|"All the bitterness of life seemed to be served to her on her plate, and, with the steam from the boiled beef, there rose from the depths of her soul other exhalations as it were of disgust (Part 1, Chapter 4)."
|Sentimental Education ( 1869)
|While living through the revolution of 1848 in France and watching the establishment of the Second French Empire, Frederic Moreau falls in love with an older woman.
|The purpose of art, infinite search for love, immorality and emptiness in the upper classes
|“And the more he was irritated by her basic personality, the more he was drawn to her by a harsh, bestial sensuality, illusions of a moment, which ended in hate (Part 3, Chapter 3).”
|Set during the First Punic War (261-241 BCE), the historical novel explores the uprising and revolt of the Mercenaries in Carthage. It follows the love story of Matho, a mercenary, and Salammbo, the daughter of a Carthaginian magistrate.
|love and war, desire, violence, exoticism
|"The brazen arms were working more quickly. They paused no longer. Every time that a child was placed in them the priests of Moloch spread out their hands upon him to burden him with the crimes of the people, vociferating: "They are not men but oxen!" and the multitude round about repeated: "Oxen! oxen!" The devout exclaimed: "Lord! Eat!". (Chapter 13"
Flaubert was a literary realist, which meant his writing focused on the everyday, mundane lives of real people and places. He is credited with bringing the French novel to a high level of development and sophistication. Despite his status as a literary realist, he also infused his works of realism with Romanticism. Flaubert was able to reconcile the objectiveness of Realism with the subjectivism of Romanticism.
Romanticism- A literary movement from the 19th century that favored subjectivism, the imagination, and the heroic individual. Devotion to nature and admiration for the sublime and beauty are hallmarks of the genre.
Flaubert's writing style reflects his unique combination of the two genres, while in essence keeping the piece of literature in the realist genre. One of the most notable characteristics is his Romantic use of descriptions and adjectives to create irony, as well as his Realist tendencies to describe things as they are and to keep the sentences short and relatable.
Irony - a rhetorical device in literature that on the surface appears to be one thing, but is, in fact, the opposite.
Flaubert was known for writing in a formal narrative format, which means he starts the book with an exposition, followed by a confrontation and a final resolution.
"Emma went upstairs. The first room was not furnished, but in the second, which was their bedroom, was a mahogany bedstead in an alcove with red drapery. A shell box adorned the chest of drawers, and on the secretary near the window a bouquet of orange blossoms tied with white satin ribbons stood in a bottle. It was a bride's bouquet; it was the other one's. She looked at it. Charles noticed it; he took it and carried it up to the attic, while Emma seated in an arm-chair (they were putting her things down around her) thought of her bridal flowers packed up in a bandbox, and wondered, dreaming, what would be done with them if she were to die (Part I, Chapter 5)."
In this excerpt from Madame Bovary, Flaubert's use of Realism and distinctive writing style are on display. It describes the bedroom just as it is, without fanciful adjectives or embellishments. Objects are described as they are, such as the shell box that adorns the chest of drawers or the bridal bouquet that sits on the secretary. The sentences are quite short and have the sole purpose of description.
We then enter the thoughts of Emma, where Flaubert best uses Romanticism in the service of irony. The symbol of the bridal bouquet is meant to evoke notions of happy union and love. In one's imagination, they may portray a couple delighted in their marriage and commitment. Emma, however, rather than seeing it as a happy symbol, sees the bridal bouquet and immediately wonders what will happen to them if she dies. She takes something meant to evoke beauty and extracts morbidity.
The Letters of Gustave Flaubert, 1837-1857 (1980) is a collection of Flaubert's letters written from the time he was about eight years old to right before his death. Many critics believe his letters to be great French literature. The epistles provide additional insights into Flaubert's writing method and techniques, political views, social views (especially his dislike for the Bourgeois), and his personal life. He corresponded with contemporary writers such as Emilie Zola, Guy de Maupassant, Ivan Turgenev, and George Sand. Letters also includes letters to family members and his mistress, Louise Colet.
“Everything measurable passes, everything that can be counted has an end. Only three things are infinite: the sky in its stars, the sea in its drops of water, and the heart in its tears (Letter to Louise Colet).”
Try to interpret what Gustave Flaubert was trying to say here. How does it reflect Flaubert's unique perspective on using romanticism in realism?
These letters are important, as Flaubert did not like to include his personality in his books. These letters provide a glimpse into the writer's more spontaneous thoughts, his love of simple pleasures, and the influence of his philosophical interests.
Flaubert was a lifelong Spinozist and pantheist, two ideologies that greatly informed his work.
Spinozist- Those who follow the ideology of the Dutch philosopher, Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), who believed that God was made up of both natural and physical laws of the universe and was not simply a single entity or creator.
Pantheist- A belief that God is made up of all the different parts of the universe and, rather than being a single entity, is an accumulation of substances, forces, and laws of the universe.
Flaubert also labeled himself as an "enraged liberal" and always supported an individual's protest against despotism. Flaubert was considered a literary perfectionist, visiting and revisiting a written piece until he deemed it perfect. He would spend hours simply trying to find the right word to use in a sentence.
Flaubert's attention to detail and aestheticism in his writing resulted in the popularity of fictional prose. His use of realism launched French literature in an entirely new direction, which left a lasting impact on more literature to come. Flaubert influenced many writers including short story writer Guy de Maupassant, existentialist playwright Jean-Paul Sartre, and the novelist Franz Kafka.
Gustave Flaubert is most known for his 1856 book Madame Bovary.
A French novelist who contributed greatly to the literary Realist movement in France.
Gustav Flaubert died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1880, probably caused by a venereal disease.
Gustave Flaubert was a realist writer and wrote about every day experiences and realistic portrayals of people and places.
Gustav Flaubert is considered one of the leaders of Realism in France and helped popularize the French Novel. He had great influence on many writers such as Guy de Maupassant.
When was Gustav Flaubert born?
December 12, 1821
Where was Gustave Flaubert born?
What book is Gustave Flaubert most famous for?
Madame Bovary (1856)
Why was Madame Bovary (1856) so scandalous?
The book was scandolous because due to its obscene nature, it was put up on trial. Flaubert won.
What does Bourgeois mean?
A term used to describe the upper-middle class and in particular their wealth, affluence, and materialism.
What is realism?
works of literature that focus on realistic depictions and portrayals of everyday life, people, and places. A focus was placed on the mundane.
The first learning app that truly has everything you need to ace your exams in one place
Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.